This year, the innovative and cutting-edge Belt Up Theatre Company have something a little bit different planned for their Fringe residency.
The entire 16-strong company will be arriving at C Soco soon to create The House Above – a custom-built environment where all of Belt Up’s shows will be performed. Details are a closely-guarded secret at the moment, but we’ve been told not to assume the walls of The House Above will stay where they are; and not to be surprised if things are a little different there each time we pay it a visit.
This York-based company have created a buzz since their inception in 2008, where their debut at the National Student Drama Festival was quickly followed by an Edinburgh International Festival Award for their Red Room project. Their past Fringe performances of The Tartuffe and The Trial realised the dreams of many a theatre company, by gaining five-star reviews and sell-out runs.
This year, they return with a programme of varied, exciting and intense drama – here’s a look at the tales which will unfold within their ever-changing House.
In Antigone, adapted from Sophocles’ original by Belt Up co-founder Alexander Wright, a dreamlike atmosphere will swirl around the audience members as they attend the funeral procession of a princess, learning of the intrigue and family drama that led to this point.
Tragedy and self-sacrifice will haunt Antigone like melancholy spirits as this intimate piece of storytelling progresses, with music, dance and physical theatre used to recount the moving tale.
Atrium is a new work from co-founder James Wilkes. In it, we will be welcomed into the nightmarish mind of Malcolm Kinear, who knows that you are just a figment of his surreal and outlandish imagination.
As he sits down to pen his life story, he welcomes the opportunity to toy with us, his imagined audience, in a performance that promises to warp itself into something different each evening.
The Boy James is one of two productions which look to JM Barrie for inspiration. Here, Alexander Wright asks us to become the childhood companions of James, a bright young boy faced with the prospect of growing up.
Pretend and make-believe soon give way to harsh reality and bitter truths as we follow James’ journey from boy to man in this heartbreaking yet funny new production.
The Second Star to the Right is the mirror to The Boy James, taking place in Neverland as Wendy listens to the previously-unheard tales of the Lost Boys. With each new story, Wendy is faced with her own innermost thoughts and fears as she too realises youth is a fleeting thing.
The Second Star to the Right is performed by the all-female Paper Weight company, whose members have all worked and performed as part of Belt Up in the past. In the gardens of Neverland, they will captivate and beguile with their lyrical, bittersweet tales which will resonate around the shifting walls of The House Above.
Things will take a stranger turn with Lorca is Dead, a new production by Dominic J Allen. Here, the Surrealists have assembled in Paris between the Wars to commemorate and celebrate the life of their late colleague, poet Frederico Garcia Lorca. Whilst the winds of war blow strong outside, the fires of conflict between the artists themselves burn stronger still, resulting in a play which turns from comedy to tragedy in the tick of a melting clock.
Lorca is Dead promises to take Belt Up’s trademark approach of audience immersion to the next level, in a production which looks set to blur the lines between actors and audience – then completely erase them.
Metamorphosis is an adpatation of Kafka’s modern classic by James Wilkes. A reprise of Belt Up’s very first production, it deconstructs the original and builds it piece by piece into a world which surrounds the audience in its vision of 1920s atmosphere, humming with the beat of constant hardship and tragedy.
A mysterious chorus recount the tragic tale as the audience witness a family’s destruction play out before them in this unsettling and disturbing tale.
The pressure is lifted a little by Octavia, Belt Up’s first ever family-oriented show, penned by Jethro Compton. Princess Octavia is on a quest to restore order to her war-torn kingdom, meeting all manner of strange and colourful characters on her journey.
Inspired by tales of Cornish folklore, Octavia will captivate and involve its audience in the princess’ adventure, allowing young and old alike to lose themselves in a magical world of myth and legend.
Dominic J Allen turns his pen to an interpretation of Homer’s classic in Odyssey. Here, a three-strong cast transport the original into a post-apocalyptic nightmare, in an intense and physical performance which takes the audience on a whirlwind journey of terror and tribulation in The House Above’s ‘junk room’.
Hard-hitting, powerful and claustrophobic, Odyssey will challenge and provoke those who are brave enough to accompany Ted Stirling on his travels through a distopyian nightmare.
Quasimodo sees Jethro Compton strip Hugo’s original back to its raw and central theme: that of the doomed and tragic love story between the hunchback and the object of his desire.
A late-night production will see the audience welcomed as members of the Parisian underworld’s Court of Miracles, as they find themselves embroiled in this tale of passion and desire which has only one inevitable and tragic conclusion.
Belt Up Theatre’s 2010 Fringe shows look set to all be highlights which will astonish, challenge, captivate and involve. With a vision that seeks to deconstruct and provoke at every opportunity, their home promises to have surprises behind every door, and secrets lurking within every dark corner.
So, step through the threshold of The House Above this Fringe and see what awaits you: from original takes on classic tales to unique and innovative stagings of new theatrical works, you are likely to find something to your taste in one of its many, ever-changing rooms…